Thursday, February 13, 2014

Food Words We May Need

Food Words We May Need

As Noam Chomsky and countless other linguists & psychologists point out, our thinking is limited by our language. This post is dedicated to some food-related words from other languages that we might consider adding to English, if only to expand our thinking (& have fun with pronunciations).

In Micronesia the people of the Gilbert Islands sometimes enjoy kamatuao, a meal one eats upon waking in the middle of the night.

Fulumizya is a Mambwe word from Zambia meaning to prepare food quickly for someone who is very hungry.

And why don’t we have a word for what all of us do to an avocado, peach, or tomato before buying it? The Tamil people have the word athukkugirathu, meaning to press fruit softly with the fingers.

The Italians perceive a difference between the average picnic & those particularly stellar picnics enjoyed in October. Those October picnic outings are known as ottobrata.

The Mandinka people of West Africa label the first meal cooked by a newly married bride bulunenekinoo.

When the people of Finland feel that particular hunger for salty food they experience hiukaista, & folks who speak Malay call that ravenous hunger we experience as we chase away an illness kemarok.

In the Easter Islands a person who can’t afford a meal but shows up at someone else’s table expecting to eat is a pakiroki.

And in the Czech Republic, an individual who loiters near a restaurant to eat the leftovers is a bufetak.

Do we need any of these words/ideas, or is English fine without them? Please leave a comment.

My thanks go out to this week’s sources: Hugh Rawson’s Adam Jacot de Boinod’s Toujours Tingo, OED, WordSense EU & The Telegraph


  1. I'm experiencing hiukaista right now!

  2. Heather - how great to "hear" from you. May your hiukaista be sated soon.

  3. "Fulumizya" there's a word I can use! I have brothers, so cooking something *right now* because he's starving sounds familiar!

  4. These are much-needed words! We also can't forget "elevenses", the meal Hobbits eat between breakfast and lunch. I've always been a big fan of elevenses. And I wonder if the Micronesians have a word for a kamatuao you don't remember eating because you took an Ambien?

  5. Hi Rachel6 & Anne,,
    Thanks for coming by. I'm with you on elvenses, Anne. Rachel, I wonder whether a speedily-made meal for the very hungry cook is also fulumizya, or whether it becomes fulumizme.

  6. You are your followers are bound to enjoy this, Charlie:

  7. Then there's this:
    Much more complex, but intriguing.